Comics Daze

DHL was supposed to deliver a new laptop today, but then apparently changed their minds or something? So I’m drowning my sorrows in comics instead. And since I’m really melancholic, I’m going to play only albums from the early 80s that I had as a teenager. So there.

David Byrne: The Catherine Wheel

13:48: Plaza by Yokoyama Yuichi (Living the Line)

What the… I think Living the Line was established basically to publish the Sim/Graubach book The Strange Death of Alex Raymond… and then I registered that they were publishing a Graubach/AI-generated art series… but now they’ve branching out into doing Yuichi Yokoyama!?!? What the!? I’m flabbergasted and very excited.

Wooow. Yokoyama makes the loudest comics in existence.

Most of his previous books have had a kind of propulsive narrative — people going on a journey, discovering things, even if it’s kinda vague what they’re finding out, really, but it’s got that hook.

This, as far as I can tell, has no narrative. Instead we’re looking at a totally absurd parade going past, cheering along with the wild crowd at the amazing spectacle.

It’s absolutely wonderful. It’s pure comics, and it’s insanely exciting. Wow!

But a nerdy note about the actual physical book — it doesn’t feel very satisfying. It’s a quite floppy almost-album-sized book, but with a tight spine, so I’m sitting here struggling both to keep it open and to un-floppify the pages. In addition, it’s printed on a paper that makes the black ink somewhat reflective (and mottled when it’s reflecting light), so I have to shift the book back and forth. That, combined with the general floppiness (thin paper) of the package and the tight spine means that I’ve had the workout of my life reading this book here on the couch. My hands are so strong now!

Quibble over! Sorry!

The Cure: Faith (1)

14:45: How To Make A Monster by Casanova Frakenstein/Glenn Pearce (Fantagraphics)

Wow! New Casanova Frankenstein, too? Is it Xmas?

Oh! The artwork isn’t by him! Well, that’s a huge disappointment, because I absolutely love his artwork — it’s gorgeous. I guess this is by Glenn Pearce, somebody I’m not familiar with, but it looks pretty good. And seems to meld with the story in a way that’s unusual for a writer/artist combo book.

This is a classic growing up autobio comic — the nerdy guy at school getting beat up by bullies. But it’s more interesting than that: It’s so angry. Every page is just pure venomous hatred towards what has happened and the people responsible. It’s pretty thrilling.

Tom Robinson: North by Northwest

Mother of the year award.

Anyway, I’m curious what others will make of this, because the book pulls no punches.

But that’s only the first half of the book. The second half is very different: It describes in minute details a couple of days where he’s playing hooky. And these bits are magical — it feels so precise that it’s hypnotic. It pulls you in and the tension is amazing.

It’s a book like nothing else and it’s kind of amazing — intensely personal with no compromise in sight — and then there’s bits that are like “hmm”. So now I’m gonna do something I seldom do and google what others thought of it.


It’s a harsh but compulsively readable story, intensely wrought, and will hold appeal for readers of Emil Ferris and Ulli Lust.

Err… this is something else

Er… Actually, I can’t find any other reviews? How is that possible? Is it that brand new? I’m usually a month behind in my reading, so that never happens. Did Fantagraphics forget to send out review copies? Are people shying away from the book because of er the controversial bits?


Simple Minds: New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)

16:31: Grey #1 by Yoshihisa Tagami (Viz)

What’s this then? I bought an album from Australia, and they included this old, old Viz book in the package. That’s random, eh?

And a hoodie.

Oh, I should put the album on while reading this, but I’m not putting the nice hoodie on…

Lawrence English: Approach

Hm… I guess the comic goes well with the music? The music is flowing and ebbing in a nice abstract, whooshy, but intimidating way? Scary music.

As is often the case with Japanese comics for teenagers of this era, I can’t tell the characters apart. At all. Those two have identical faces, right? I wondered whether they were supposed to be twins, but later they almost have sex, so I guess… er… I guess that doesn’t really tell me anything.

They solve the problem later by fridging the one with the boobs, and then bring in more characters where each one has a Distinguishing Feature (unfortunately nobody with an eye patch or a wooden leg).

It’s fine as these things go, I guess.

16:49: Young Agatha Christie by Augel (Humanoids)

Well, OK, this is for children, and it seems like it’d be fun for the right person…

I mean, it’s amusing? It’s just not my thing, though, so I ditched it one third in.

Peter Gabriel: Peter Gabriel 4

17:02: The Poe Clan Vol 1 by Moto Hagio (Fantagraphics)

This is a collection of stories from the early 70s. It starts off with three shorter stories, and then three really long ones, bringing the page count up to almost six hundred.

Her artwork was totally trend setting, for better or worse. I mean, it’s really pretty, but she has a very limited palette of pretty faces, so half the characters can only be distinguished by their hairdos.

New Musik: Warp

But they’re fun stories, as vampires-as-gay-predators stories go?

Bunching these stories up like this doesn’t do them any favour, though, because I was getting slightly bored by the whole thing after three hundred pages, so I think I’ll save the last half of the book for later.

King Crimson: Beat

18:30: Blackwater by Arroyo/Graham (Henry Holt)

Wow, this looks… this looks awful! Was this made for display on a screen? It looks like somebody with no experience with print just sent a colour PDF to a print-on-demand service that accidentally printed it in black and white instead. And this is Macmillan/Holtzbrinck, one of the world’s biggest publishers.

Publishers like to follow trends. When one of them has something that’s a hit, you can be guaranteed that there’ll be something similar from all the other major publishers around 15 months later, because they’re kinda slow. So I’m assuming Henry Holt ordered half shelf metre of Heartstopper clones to fill the fall schedule, and this is what they got. (This is exactly how publishing works. I am very smart.) Of course, comics take longer, so half the chapters have artwork by one person, and half of them by another.

They also completely miss the point of what made Heartstopper work, and pour on the fake drama from the start.

And then… they add werewolves, because symbolism. That’s what this needs, obviously.

This is such a train wreck that I couldn’t avert my eyes. It’s monumentally awful on every level. Nice going, Henry Holt.

Kate Bush: The Dreaming

19:09: Death Save by Rune Ryberg (Forlæns)

I was reading an article about Danish comics of the previous decade, and this was mentioned as one of the defining works.

Love the colours!

This is the kind of art style I’m always wondering whether they’ve made an artistic choice to draw like this, or whether it’s just a way to disguise that they can’t really draw hands. But I like it anyway.

This is a story about two kids hanging out one summer. It feels very genuine — it’s got that classic pairing of one that’s more nerdy and introverted, and one that’s wild and out of control. So if they play out the normal playbook here, the wild one is going to die so that the nerdy one can learn an important life lesson.

I know, I know, I make fun — but it’s really well done. It’s got a real sense of place, and you can feel these streets and these rooms and everything. It’s so specific, and so general at the same time.

*time passes*

Unfortunately, the third act goes through more clichés than you thought was possible, and the book falls flat. It’s like he had an editor or something that took him through all the plot points that would make this into a “real story”, and it all turned to shit.

Has it been adapted into a movie yet?

Grace Jones: Living My Life

20:08: Tummy Bugs by Leomi Sadler (Breakdown Press)

These are very strange comics.

Mostly shorter pieces that mix naivete with whimsy? It’s very pretty, and it builds to a very distinctive mood. Nice.

Eurythmics: Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)

20:26: Total Jazz by Blutch (Fantagraphics)

I’m really sceptical towards comics biographies — they’re usually extruded products made to fill a publishing schedule. But this is Blutch, and he’s great, so…

This is very slight work, though. It’s a collection of single page strips he did for a French Jazz magazine a couple decades ago.

It looks great, and some of the strips are amusing, but it’s… it’s just kinda slight?

But it’s fine.

Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft: Für Immer

20:46: När vi var samer by Mats Jonsson (Galago)

This is a book where Jonsson tells the story of his (re)discovery of his sàmi heritage. There’s also a huge amount of historical backstory and stuff.

He draws in his usual utilitarian style — it’s not exactly pretty, is it? It gets the work done, but reading 340 pages like this is somewhat discouraging.

The Cure: Pornography

I’d say that this book is a success… but there’s bits that work bettern than other bits.

Blaine L. Reininger: Broken Fingers

Reading deeply personal work is great, of course, but I think he sometimes tips over into private stuff that’s not that interesting.

Tom Tom Club: Close To The Bone

And while he’s good at doing autobio, when he tries to do fictional bits where he imagines what life was like in, like, the 1600s, it falls pretty flat.

I have to admit I started skipping these bits, and some of the historical infodumps, because… I’m so uncultured, OK? A Philistine! I admit it.

It’s pretty good? It’s pretty good.

Talking Heads: Speaking in Tongues

00:14: Welcome to Oddville! by Jay Stephens (Adhouse Books)

This is a collection of strips — perhaps originally published on the interwebs or something?

Printed in an album format… is that optimal? Somehow the way they’re arranged on the page just makes me impatient with the strips, even if they’re sometimes quite amusing.

Whatever the reason is, I’m just not feeling it, and I ditched this at the halfway point.

Simple Minds: Sparkle In The Rain

00:43: Weltschmerz #10A by Christopher Nielsen (No Comprendo Press)

Nielsen is an institution in Norway, but I’ve somehow never actually kept up with his output. It’s probably a decade or two since I read something of his? I have no idea how that happened, because I remember quite liking his stuff?

Oh yeah… I had also forgotten how he has a tendency to take a good joke and run with it to such an extreme that it gets annoying.

But you can’t argue with the cartooning.

And several pieces in here are, indeed, hilarious.

Psychic TV: Dreams Less Sweet

01:32: The End

But I think it’s time to go to bed — I’m exhausted.

That was a somewhat unusual mix of books for me. Most of them were strongly narrative — except the Yokoyama book, none were “art first”, so to speak. The Casanova Frankenstein and Yokoyama books were strong, and the rest were kinda… hit or miss? Let’s see…. Yeah, none of the other books were total successes, I think.

Oh well. So sleepy.

One thought on “Comics Daze”

  1. Thanks for the review. I think the lack of reviews might come from the book not getting to the right audience.

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